Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Choo for thought

With the recent announcement that Jimmy Choo is partnering with Swedish chain store H&M, the question is: will we still want them? I see a million startled little faces with bubbles over their heads thinking: "I don't want them anymore." Does a pair of Jimmy Choos purchased after standing in line at H&M have the same cachet as the one packaged up just for you in a Jimmy Choo boutique? And if so, why aren't we rushing H&M now for sales on those statement dresses for special events? Probably for the same reason we don't show off our Moschinos the way we show off  Trina Turks. The Choos are due in stores Nov. 14, but as of right now the H&M at White Flint Mall hasn't heard if they're getting them. I'm not pooh-poohing the idea. Far from it. I'm all for anything that supports the consumer, retail and the economy. I'm just wondering about the psychology of the consumer in this economy-impacted fashion climate, i.e., will these become "the H&M Choos" as compared to the "real Choos" creating a Choo culture war? Will that create a drop/rise in sales for any Choos or luxury footwear? Let the games begin. (For more on the business of Jimmy Choo, check out "Choo Lovers Everywhere" on this blog.) 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bethesda's Biggest Losers (and winners) event

The Gazette newspapers Healthy Challenge reaches its conclusion this week with events Sunday starting at noon at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. The winning team will be announced (Red or Blue) based on weight loss and fitness; don't miss the fashion show at 2:30 featuring cool workout wear by Stretchalicious. Vendors include nutritionists, Honest Tea and more. Drop by and cheer on the winners (and losers) who worked so hard to reach their goals. I wish I could be there - you were spared seeing me on the runway as a model - a rare request I would have been thrilled to fulfill, but alas I'm out of town for the event. So please go in my stead and cheer on the Red and the Blue.   

Calling all Round House Patrons

Round House theatergoers in Bethesda and Chevy Chase might be interested in this offer for a little summer culture in DC. You may have gotten the email, but just in case you missed it...here it is again straight from Round House:

$15 off tickets for Round House patrons to Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull on Sixteenth Street." Adapted by Ari Roth from a translation by Carol Rocamora. Directed by John Vreeke. Starring Jerry Whiddon with Naomi Jacobson, J. Fred Shiffman and Alexander Strain. 
June 17 — July 19.
Theater J
1529 Sixteenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
"Youth is envied, challenged and mortally wounded in this tale by the great Russian master. Inspired by Vanya on 42nd Street, Theater J's 16th Street theater and the dynamic clash between spiritual yearning and our artistic ambitions provides the stage for a journey back to the Russian countryside in this tale of artistic conflict, love, loss, jealousy and lots of laughs."
Use code "RoundHouse" to save $15 on any regularly priced performance.
Click here or call (800) 494-TIXS to purchase tickets. Visit www.theaterj.org for more information.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Our trip to Bethesda Central Farm Market

Yesterday we headed to Bethesda Row to check out the new Bethesda Central Farm Market. We loved its European feel and wandered among various vendors proffering vegetables, flowers, breads, pasta, sausages, cheese and fish. At the Meat Crafters table, we tried tiny bites of sausage laid out for sampling. A young man with a huge grin on his face after tasting the "Merguez," lamb sausage flavored with North African spices, sold us on that one. We also tried (and bought) the Capitol Half Smokes, loving their not-too-salty, mild yet very savory flavor. We then checked out the fresh pasta offered by Catering by Anna St. John for $1 a piece. We opted for four tomato/basil/mozzarella, two caramelized onion and portobello and two arugula and asparagus, which we dressed with a little bruschetta at home. Fantastic. We couldn't resist stopping into Cork&Fork after seeing their sign out front beckoning visitors in for a wine tasting. After owner Anna Landragin opened Calina, a Chilean chardonnay, for us, we duly tasted and promptly bought the spicy, yet light wine (no heavy oaky overtones) for $13.99. Our shopping done, we headed home, cooked everything up, added some greens, and savored a homemade meal made with fresh, local ingredients. Delicioso.

Harriet Kassman retirement sale

Check out the huge sale starting today at Harriet Kassman--up to 75 percent off on Bogner, Lafayette 148 as well as everything from the bridal salon. I had the privilege of interviewing the lively, hard-working Harriet when she opened the bridal salon and she has long been a favorite of ours. I was always impressed by her daily appearance at work in well-tailored suits and high heels--at an age when most would have been long retired. I loved her stories of traveling through Europe on buying trips and dealing with "the boys"--the Badgley Mischka design pair as youngsters making their way up the fashion ladder.  Though the instant gratification of  throwaway fashion has its appeal, we lament that the days of personal service, well-tailored clothes and attention to detail seem to be going the way of the dinosaur. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

CityShopGirl Wows Fans at Mayflower Hotel

By 5:45 p.m. when I arrived at the Mayflower Hotel in DC, a line snaked through the lobby as CityShopGirl online subscribers queued up to enter an event that site founder Kelly Collis Fredrick put on just for them. “Two hundred people came through the door,” Kelly says. “There was a waitlist of 300.”  Kelly, dressed for the event in a Proenza Schouler skirt, provided attendees with complimentary mini manicures, makeovers by Beauty 360, massages by Relax and Rejuvenate and hairstyles by Salon Cielo. Kelly’s friend Dr. Lauren Gavaris (a Holton Arms school grad like Kelly) was on hand to give information about the new eyelash product, Latisse. Bartenders mixed cocktails at two bars and there were also plenty of nibbles—mushroom truffle dip, olive tapenade, breads, little marinated onions and more.  Everyone got to leave with a gift bag, a new hairstyle, a massage, fresh makeup and great nails.  Here are highlights from this VERY fun event:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Form of a Flower

All photos by Amy Lamb

Bethesda resident Amy Lamb is not only a dedicated gardener (Bethesda Magazine, March/April 2008), she is also an accomplished photographer who regularly uses the flowers in her garden as subjects. You can still catch a show of her fine art floral photography this week at the Steven Scott Gallery in Baltimore. I love the way she finds universal form and structure in the smallest detail of each plant. Here's a quote from her website:

"The stunning structures of fruits and flowers demonstrate for me an elegant and mysterious partnership of form with function. In observing nature as a biologist, I am continuously awed by the marvelous designs revealed to me. As a photographer, my goal is to convey to the viewer some of the magnificence that passes before me."

You won't believe that this is the biologist's second career. Go now. It ends June 28.

"Large Scale Floral Photographs"
Steven Scott Gallery
808 South Ann Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21213
Telephone: 410.902.9300

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

There are some fun and different ways to get Dad going on Father's Day. Among the many restaurant specials and store promotions around town, a couple of notables worth mention: Try the tasty fare of the new chef at neighborhood hangout redDog Cafe on Grubb Road, enjoy live jazz by Chuck Redd on the patio and check out some works by local artists on the walls. After Dad has eaten, take him over to Bethesda's Writer's Center Father's Day Open Mic for a little self-expression. No? You can always feed him for free at Austin Grill or let him go crazy at Delhi Dhaba's Indian buffet. He can also pick out his own cookout fixins at the new Bethesda Farm Market behind Jaleo today from 9-1.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just spotted at Lou Lou Bethesda

Just had to add a final Friday post about these colorful summer-fun bracelets found at Lou Lou at Bethesda Lane today. $15 buys you a wristful of snappy kitsch even if it's not el dia de los muertes. The hot colors make any t-shirt and jean combo sing. The fab leather butterfly bags were perched up on a shelf. Also don't miss rows of chunky bangles and cuffs, tables of earrings, oversized "broochy" belt buckles--all ways to find great fashion on little more than a dime. 

Imagine! Claude Brown in Town

Claude Brown? Think circa 50s- early 70s retro chic in clean colors and crisp prints put craftily together by stylist Neil Cohen and designer Claude Brown, a collaboration that resulted in the New York-based Claude Brown-The Collection.  You may have seen Claude Brown's houndstooth coat on the snarky-but-addictive series "Gossip Girl." Now you can see (and buy) the clothes right here in MoCo because Imagine boutique got an exclusive shipment of dresses, tops and more from the designer for a sample sale running now till the clothes are gone. Ready, Set, Go. It's not that far to Washingtonian Center--really. And guess what!? There's parking.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Soggy Sidewalks=Big Bargains

Don't let the persistent drizzle stop you from wandering through Wildwood Shopping Center's old-fashioned annual sidewalk sale today through Saturday. (I hear birds--are the clouds lifting?) There are tables and tables of bargains to be had from stores like Belina boutique (who by the way is also in the midst of their semi-annual sale with bargains up to 75 percent off), Kellogg Collection, Madeline, Celadon Home, Red Orchard and more. It's an annual neighborhood treat. And no, I won't say just in time for Father's Day because we're covering that separately. (And everyone and their brother--from salons to nurseries to book stores--has something perfect for Father's Day. But the question is: Do they sell naps with a free clicker to clutch while sleeping?)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beach Blanket Retro Glam

I admit it. I don't really like standard-issue "bathing suits." My long torso doesn't take kindly to two tiny pieces of fabric on either end of a long expanse of skin. Plus there isn't much of a waist there to break things up. I want to feel like I'm donning an actual outfit when I put on my swimsuit, not some generic formulaic "two-piece" or "tank" or "tankini." I didn't really want to go the vintage route, so I scoured websites and found suits I actually get excited about like the Jantzen suit left--feminine, tailored, neat and structured. (The Badgley Mischka below is perfection.)

Though some of the smaller houses like Hayden-Harnett (below right)
come up with the most innovative designs, larger design names are coming up with just the suits I have in mind. Here are a few of the best I've found around online and at shops ranging from Nordstrom to Urban Outfitters to Anthropologie to Macy's to SyLene in Chevy Chase.

Love the high-waisted Jantzen two-piece; ruched one-piece is by INC

Betsey Johnson (left) & Kimchi at Urban Outfitters make you feel "dressed"

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Real Life at AFI Film Fest

Unless you just crawled out from under a rock, you're probably aware of the AFI-Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival this week at SilverDocs in Silver Spring. Highlights include the documentary on which the recent HBO movie, "Grey Gardens," starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore, was based. I was both disturbed and haunted by the movie about the making of the documentary; actually seeing the Bouvier pair in their regal deshabille may take me over the edge. But unfortunately for me it's playing 11:15 Friday night! Not good. I'm already going earlier that same day to see "The September Issue," the real story of legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour--the Prada-wearing devil played by Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada."I actually don't care what she's like to work with, to me, she's no devil. She painstakingly brings us a fashion aesthetic in which we can immerse ourselves through pages of haute couture presented in the most spectacular layout possible. That's why the film intrigues me so. I can't wait to see the creative director Grace Coddington in action. Vogue's pages have always been art and an inspiration to me. After all I did spend much of my childhood in costume pretending to be someone else. And that is what fashion brings me. It's all about the destination, the idea of who we think we really are. Oh and lest I digress, another filmfest highlight will be the world premiere of "The Nine Lives of Marion Barry." Oh yes, truth is always much, much better than fiction. And we finally have an opportunity to see the "shorts" we hear about on Oscar night, plus the U.S. premiere of "More Than a Game" about a group of basketball players from Ohio. Does the name LeBron James ring a bell? Fashion, athletes, eccentrics, meandering mayors... I can hardly wait.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Weekend Update

This is a great weekend to be in town looking for something to do. Whether you're into shopping, gardening or art, there's something fantastic for everyone.

The Nature Conservancy chooses several display-worthy gardens each year to open to the public during their "Open Days" garden tours. Saturday the Bethesda area is host to four of those gardens, including the Chevy Chase garden of Kathleen Williams, which I profiled in the January issue of Bethesda Magazine. The 97-year-old artist was a true inspiration for me. Artworks of her own creation are sprinkled throughout her garden. (They have also sat in the Corcoran and Smithsonian museums.) Her creative force and lively spirit are qualities I try to emulate in my own life. I will be going back for another visit.

Photographer Daniel Schreiber will be displaying his work along with 24 other local artists at the Bethesda Artist Market tomorrow at Bethesda Place Plaza. I know Daniel's work firsthand; he took the lovely photographs of Kathleen and her garden for my story, and also had recent shows of his photos at Discovery Gallery and Glen Echo.

Swedish home store Klaradal in Olney (voted "Best Store" by Bethesda Magazine in January) is having a Midsummer sale complete with food, fiddlers and a midsummer pole Saturday from 11-4. Klaradal, located in a quaint little house, frequently hosts fun events. Owner Sue Kopperman makes a phenomenal "Klaradini" (but you didn't hear that from me).

On a bookish note, check out the author event tonight at 7:30 at the Bethesda Barnes & Noble when writer Ali Sethi discusses his book, The Wishmaker. Don't miss author Wheeler del Torro talk about making vegan ice cream, The Vegan Scoop, at the Rockville location (in Montrose Crossing shopping center) Saturday at 3:30.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Little Mermaid

Last week when I interviewed former Bachelorette and current "Get Married" host, DeAnna Pappas, she told me that "mermaid" style gowns were a popular choice this season. Because June is the month of the bride, I wanted to hunt up the best of the mermaid to share. I could have spent days on this project. I wore my mother's gown when I got married and didn't ever go searching through gowns. What fun. I found so many dreamy takes on the classic silhouette but can't possibly show them all. So here are just a precious few from Romona Keveza, Elizabeth Fillmore and L'ezu Atelier . (L'ezu Atelier above left)

left to right: Natasha gown by Elizabeth Fillmore; Romona Keveza Couture; Romona Keveza Couture; Romona Keveza Legends

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

United Nude - In Shoe We Trust

Hello Miss Mono-Jane! Head to Zelaya shoes in Bethesda to find the most sassy Mary Jane in town. Wide straps, alluring little peep-toe and all in so fashionably vegan EVA. "Sexy crocs," says Tony Zelaya, owner of the eponymous shop inside Daisy Too where you can find United Nude's Mono-Jane. The avant-garde-but-fun Mono-Jane comes in colors ranging from femme pink to street-smart gray. Another can't-miss is the grown-up "Mobius" slide, the flagship shoe for United Nude created by (of course) architect Rem D. Koolhaas, the creative director and founder of United Nude, started in 2003. The sophisticated Mobius is architecture for your feet and so very nonchalantly uber-chic -- and comes in varying heel heights.How perfect is that? Oh and did I mention they're on sale? They are. Really. These will be your new summer play shoes. You're probably not going to find them anyplace else.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

More of Me Maternity Please

Saturday I got to meet local designer Jessica Boulanger, the creative talent behind the DC-based More of Me Maternity. The designer appeared at a trunk show at Bethesda boutique Daisy Too showcasing her very first collection for More of Me Maternity--a summer line of dresses, tanks and maxis suitable for moms-to-be or not. Leave it to Daisy Too owner Fabiana Zelaya to find the best new mom-to-be lines to add to her shop. (But of course she would. She's expecting a baby herself in August.) Jessica, a former press secretary for Rep. Roy Blunt, just had her second baby in May and was in the store showcasing her line of dresses that, really, are way too chic to only wear for nine months. "I wanted them to look non-maternity but it's that fit that's so important...You really need that maternity fit," she says. I remember stuffing myself into "regular" clothes not wanting to invest in a whole new (and back then slightly weird) wardrobe during my pregnancy. Now women can wear Jessica's designs from "Yes, You're having a baby" till long after "It's a boy/girl!" Jessica was wearing a blue jersey maxi that was far more flattering than most filling stores right now. The cut is slimming, the V-neckline flattering, with "bra-friendly" straps to keep things neat. Her "Cupcake Tanks," are tank tops cut a bit longer for moms-to-be-- or women like me with long torsos. The line also features silk dresses and a linen dress that comes in a shimmery champagne or Jessica's signature orange that work with or without a baby bump. I wish these existed when I was in the baby biz. But I would get the maxi-dress now anyway. And, there are no babies looming on this horizon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Anthropologie & Austin

Ok, so I just got back from Albuquerque and Santa Fe, I know. And while I'm trying to adjust to the buckets of rain falling from our Washington skies, I get hit with this--the latest Anthropologie catalog shot partly in Austin, Texas, another fave city dear to my heart (and the capital city of the state in which I was born). What is it about Austin--the outrageously good music, the fantastic restaurants, funky architecture-- that makes good fashion sense come so easily to its real-life residents? And the catalog makers here got it just right. Culture + color = real life clothes that meld seamlessly into their surroundings--Deep Eddy, Alamo Drafthouse, Guero's Taco Bar. What better style statement is there? I'm going to hit up Anthro in Rockville today and see if I can bring a little of that Texas ease into my Bethesda burbs. I know, I know it's not Texas, it's just a store, but they got me feeling it. And that's the mark of a job well done.